Preliminary report released 29 February 2012

At approximately 0542 CST on 27 December 2011, freight train 7AD1 derailed at the rail bridge over the Edith River near Katherine in the Northern Territory (NT).

As a result of the derailment, the co-driver suffered minor injuries. The train driver was unhurt. There was significant damage to the bridge and rolling-stock and a number of wagons, including the crew van which was unoccupied at the time, derailed into the river.

The derailment was the result of a severe weather event, a tropical low, which formed on December 26 after tropical Cyclone 'Grant' crossed the coast. The tropical low resulted in torrential rains falling in the vicinity of Katherine causing severe flooding of the Edith River. The flooding was sufficient to cause catastrophic damage to the southern bridge embankment which initiated the derailment of train 7AD1 as it traversed the bridge.

The investigation is continuing.

The information contained in this preliminary report is derived from the initial investigation of the occurrence. Readers are cautioned that it is possible that new evidence may become available that alters the circumstances as depicted in the report.